Penn State Wrestling Cruises Past Lehigh 30-10 in Dual Season Opener
Penn State wrestling (1-0) defeated Lehigh (0-2) 30-10 on Sunday in Rec Hall the first dual meet of the season for the Nittany Lions. Coming off yet another undefeated season capped by the team’s 10th national championship in 12 years, Penn State looked as dominant as ever as it handily took care of the Mountain Hawks.
With many wrestlers taking advantage of the newly implemented three-point takedown, Rec Hall saw bonus point victories from Nittany Lions’ Mitchell Messenbrink, Bernie Truax, Greg Kerkvliet and Carter Starocci, who highlighted the dual with a first-period pin.
How It Happened
As Penn State works out who will take hold of the starting spot at 125 pounds, Gary Steen opened the dual Lehigh’s Sheldon Seymour. Some strong defense from Steen in an active but scoreless first period kept bout tied at 0-0. Starting the second in bottom position, Steen took only seconds to escape, earning the first point of the bout. Heading into the final two minutes, the score remained 1-0 in favor of Steen as neither wrestler posed an offensive threat to the other. After an escape from Seymour to start the third, the Seymour capitalized on a favorable in the final seconds to secure the match’s only takedown, defeating Steen 4-1.
No. 3 Aaron Nagao, making his Rec Hall debut, took on No. 5 Ryan Crookham in the 133-pound bout. Once again, neither wrestler found any offensive momentum in the first, leading to a 0-0 score headed into the second. Despite an early escape from Nagao, Crookham shot for the match’s first takedown, giving him a 3-2 lead halfway through the second after a Nagao escape. A second takedown from Crookham increased his lead to 6-2 heading into the final period. Despite a third period rideout and a stall point, Nagao couldn’t turn Crookham for the decisive points and fell 6-4.
Lehigh led the dual 6-0 heading into the third bout.
No. 2 Beau Bartlett faced Lehigh’s Carter Bailey at 141 pounds. Takedowns and escapes from both wrestlers early into the first period opened up the scoring at 4-4 with one minute left. After Bartlett failed to convert a last-second takedown, the score was tied heading into the middle period. After an escape from down position, Bartlett quickly shot down for his second takedown of the match, taking the lead 8-5 after an escape from Bailey. A third takedown in the final 30 seconds of the period extended Bartlett’s lead to 11-5 heading into the final two minutes. After an escape from Bailey to start the third, a final takedown from Bartlett secured the 14-6 major decision.
Tyler Kasak, filling in for No. 2 Shayne Van Ness, took on Drew Munch at 149 pounds. Two takedowns in the first period from Kasak gave the Nittany Lion a 6-2 lead early on. An escape from Munch was the only point scored in the second, cutting Kasak’s lead to 6-3 heading into the final period. After giving away points to an illegal hold and stalling midway through the third, an earlier escape paired with great scrambling allowed Kasak to hang on for the 7-5 decision.
Penn State took its first team lead of the day at 7-6.
Next to the mat for Penn State was No. 1 Levi Haines squaring off against No. 24 Max Brignola. After falling to an awkward takedown to start the period, Haines quickly bounced back with a takedown of his own, tying the bout at 4-4 after one. An escape from Brignola was the only point found in the second period after Haines’ takedown attempt was cut off by the buzzer. Another escape from bottom position followed by a sweep single gave Haines an 8-5 lead with a minute left. Haines then landed his third takedown of the bout with five seconds to go in the final period, securing the 12-6 win and increasing the dual lead to 10-6 heading into the break.
After a short break, action resumed in Rec Hall as No. 16 Mitchell Mesenbrink took on No. 32 Jake Logan. Mesenbrink opened up the scoring for the bout with a takedown late into the first period, taking a 3-0 lead headed into the second. Messenbrink quickly escaped from bottom position to start the middle period, following it up with two more takedowns as he increased his lead to 10-1 heading into the third. A huge double leg takedown halfway through the third from the Cal Baptist transfer gave him the 18-2 tech fall, giving him his first win dawning the blue and white in Rec Hall.
Next to the mat was No. 1 Carter Starocci facing off against Thayne Lawrence. Starocci quickly scored three takedowns before eventually putting Lawrence on his back for the pin at 2:07, increasing the Nittany Lions’ lead to 21-6.
No. 2 Bernie Truax took the mat next against Lehigh’s Jack Wilt. A quick takedown from Truax gave him the early 4-2 lead as the second period went underway. An escape and additional takedown from Truax increased his lead to 8-2 heading into the final two minutes. A final flurry of takedowns from Truax gave the new Nittany Lion a 19-4 tech fall in his Rec Hall dual meet debut.
Lucas Cochran filled in for No. 1 Aaron Brooks and battled No. 10 Michael Beard. After a quick takedown by former Nittany Lion Beard, the rest of the period saw little action other than an eventual escape from Cochran, cutting into the 3-1 deficit after the first. A dominant second period from Beard gave him a 10-3 lead heading into the final two minutes. Another handful of takedowns from Beard led to a 20-6 major decision victory over Cochran and brought the dual score to 26-10.
Capping off the dual at heavyweight, No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet squared off against No. 12 Nathan Taylor of Lehigh. After a tense few minutes due to an apparent injury to the Kerkvliet, he wrestled on and took a 3-1 lead heading into the second period. More dominant offense from Kerkvliet in the second extended his lead to 7-1 going into the final two minutes of the dual. After securing top control for a majority of the third, Kerkvliet took an 11-1 major decision to finish the contest, the Nittany Lions won 30-10 in the first home dual of the season.
Penn State wrestling will be in action next when it takes on Hofstra at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, in Rec Hall. The meet will be streamed on on BIG+.